Emerging Austin, Thinktiv’s Perspective
I love the perspective reflected in Thinktiv’s blog post on growth financing in Austin, and the evolution of Austin itself:
Every year around this time, SXSW provides us with a reliable checkpoint for measuring the growth and evolution of Austin. If you have spent any time in or around downtown Austin since SXSW 2013, you know how quickly the skyline is changing. The transformation of the city’s center has actually been building for the past five years, but it is now exploding upward.
Right now, in a 20 square block area encompassing downtown, there are at least 25 major buildings under construction or in the planning phases. This number doesn’t even consider the many more new restaurants, bars, museums, cafes and other destinations that are sprouting in the valleys between these projects. I think those of you who are back for the first time in a year will be shocked.
If you’re reading this from Hong Kong or NYC, this may not seem that exceptional for development pace. But I can remember in 2001-2, when the *only* major project in downtown Austin was the Frost Tower being built – now an icon of the downtown skyline. And that was the first major building to be built in downtown Austin in years.
Austin is transforming. And there are some complaints about the growth, but for the most part, Austin is building the foundation for the next phase. The buildings and density downtown are setting the foundation for a more walkable and livable city – and will create the demand for transportation solutions that are long overdue. As the Thinktiv post says: “While the inconvenience levels are high, there has never been a more exciting time to be in Austin.”
But it is the startup scene that is growing alongside the physical infrastructure:
We’ve had a full-scale revolution in Austin’s seed/angel-stage landscape over the past five years. The hard work of leaders like Josh Baer at Capital Factory, Jason Seats at TechStars Austin, and our team at Thinktiv (among many others) have helped to significantly increase the volume of investment-worthy early-stage deal flow in the Austin ecosystem, and to get those companies capitalized for growth.
Local capital firms like Silverton Partners, LiveOak Venture Partners and Corsa Ventures have recently announced new funds that diversify options for locally-sourced lifecycle investors.
Big companies like Bazaarvoice, HomeAway, RetailMeNot, Indeed and others have seen major liquidity events, while other smaller firms have hit doubles and triples in the $10M – $100M exit range. The result? We’ve got a fresh, new generation of smart-as-hell angels and self-funded entrepreneurs who have plunged into the game. They’ve made their mark – and some version of a fortune – locally, and are now investing their money and their expertise here as well. And the beast keeps feeding itself.
Look, these wins are changing our city, and our startup ecosystem. I love the image Thinktiv put together:
Thinktiv has played a bigger role in boosting Austin’s startup scene than they let on in this post. At various times they’ve given a number of startups the boost they needed to get to the next level – or to test product-market fit. I’m encouraged to see this level of creative investment and destruction in Austin – It is truly more activity than I’ve ever seen in our town.